Today is the Memorial Day of Blessed Jordan of Saxony, who was born in 1190 and died in 1237. This Dominican was Master General of the Order when it was only six years old, succeeding Dominic upon his death. It was said that men prayed for strength to resist Jordan’s burning eloquence, and mothers hid their sons when Master Jordan came to town. Students and masters warned each other of the fatal magnetism of his sermons. The sweetness of his character and the holiness of his life shone through his most casual words in a flame that drew youth irresistibly to the ideal to which he had dedicated his own life. In his 16 years of preaching, Jordan is said to have drawn more than a thousand novices to the Dominican Order, among whom were two future popes, two canonized saints, numerous beati, and countless intellectual lights of his dazzling century.
He drew people to him. He healed the sick and distressed. He spread the Word. He was magnetic.
In today’s first reading from Leviticus, we learn how the ancient Isrealites treated lepers…and other outcasts…driving them away, branding them, and therefore, they thought, keeping themselves safe.
Then in the Gospel, we witness Jesus stretching out his hand to touch a leper and make him clean. Jesus often touches outcasts, the sick, the sinners. Interestingly, we then see Jesus choosing to remain outside of towns, staying in deserted places, just as lepers were forced to do under the Levitical code, because the crowds drawn to him were too large.
Under the old Law, certain people and groups were forced out of society. Under the Law that Jesus “fulfilled,” he places himself in the same category as the outcasts, lepers, sinners.
But his law is love, and his message is peace, as we hear in the carol “O Holy Night.”
How are we to reconcile these conflicting messages? They are reconciled in the second reading from First Corinthians:
Brothers and sisters, Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.
Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or the church of God,just as I try to please everyone in every way,
not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved. Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
And that is how Blessed Jordan of Saxony finds his place among the words of Good News spread by Jesus and the Apostles. He is truly an imitator of Christ, as was Paul; he is truly a magnet as was Our Lord.
Simply by demonstrating that he loved the Lord our God with his whole heart, his whole soul, and his whole strength, and that he loved his neighbor as himself, he drew hundreds, thousands to Jesus, and to the new Order of Preachers. He went outside the walls, where he found the halt, the lame, the distressed, and he gave them peace.
Lord, help us to imitate Christ by going outside the walls. Help us to see the Lord in everyone we meet, the low and the high, the humble and the proud. And help us to do as Blessed Jordan did: draw others to a life of perfection